6.30am is also not a time that I find speaking any language, never mind French, an easy task but nevertheless, I found myself standing with one of the French Papas doing my best to get my half-asleep mouth around my vowels and my somnolent throat around the odd rolled 'r'. He was talking to me (and one of the other English mums) about carbon neutral insulation, and low CO2 boilers. This is a conversation I would struggle to have mid-morning after a healthy 8 hours sleep, never mind after about 2 hours at 6.30am. I have vague recollections of the mention of 'poil' (fur or hair) and Swedish boilers. Maybe someone call fill in the missing bits for me.
He did kindly e-mail me an old French proverb this morning though
The future belongs to those who get up early (that'll be me then!)
The future belongs to those who have workers who get up early (OK, OK, I'll share!)
J, the papa was obviously in philosophical mood as he cast his eye over the group of 11 and 12 year old children. 'This is the future of France' he said. McDonald's will be pleased, I thought. So many to choose from! We all know that égalité (equality) doesn't really exist in France except in the minds of the Government who force feed it to the proletariat in the hope that they won't notice that a ruling élite is still being groomed in the Grands Ecoles of Paris. Ooh er! What's happening to the Capitalist in me? That's sounds vaguely left wing to me!
One thing that will be different for them is their language. The Robert, the French version of the Oxford English Dictionary, has changed the spelling of over 6000 words to reflect modern usage and to simplify it for people learning French. From now on, foreign words which have entered the French language like Pizzeria and Kebab (see how international our cuisine is!) can now be written with an accent over the e (pizzéria, kébab) to frenchify them. Well, I guess if you can't beat em, join em! The Académie Française, charged with maintaining the purity of the French language, has long resisted the introduction of foreign words without success. So, if you can't get rid of them, make them sound French and everyone is happy.
From now on too, mots composés, words that are made up from two words joined together, like 'porte-monnaie' and 'pop-corn' can be written with or without the hyphen and words like 'évènements' (events) a long-time bête noire of children's school dictées (dictations - yes, they still do them) can now be written as it is pronounced 'événements'.
The media is in uproar, the comments page on Le Figaro's website has nearly 300 comments and climbing, most of them saying things like 'un nation de crétins' (a nation of cretins - doesn't really need a translation does it!), 'changer votre Robert pour Larousse à cause de trahison' (change your Robert for a Larousse (another dictionary) because of their betrayal), 'Paul Robert doit se retourner dans sa tombe' (Paul Robert must be turning in his grave), 'M. Alain Rey devrait prendre sa retraite. D'urgence.' (Alain Rey, the editor of the dictionary, should retire as soon as possible). He's also a gauchist apparently so that's why he's singlehandedly trashing the French language. Well, not quite single-handedly (!) as it appears also to be the fault of the presenters of the weather forecasts and of ex-footballers who've become sports commentators. Many commentators (as in those that comment rather than the commentators themselves . Boy can you tell I had an early morning!) believe that their prononciation of the language is so poor that the youth are starting to write phonetically. Oh, and don't forget texting!
Probably not the right time to remind them that up to the 17th century they spoke Latin in France.
Personally it doesn't go far enough for me. When I'm President I shall dispense with all tenses except present, future and past - I mean, do you really need a whole tense just for the written word? How greedy is that! All nouns will take 'le' and there will be no agreement with nouns - no, not even if they go on strike. Better still, I'll make them all speak English.
Vote for me! Vote for me!